WIPO Scared Of The Pirate Party; Won't Give It Observer Status Due To Objections Despite Meeting Criteria
from the but-of-course dept
There was a report a few weeks back noting that WIPO had been in favor (pdf) of allowing the Pirate Party International to be designated as an accredited “observer” to WIPO meetings (which would allow them to participate as an non-governmental organization, but without voting powers). However, it appears that the official decision on this has now been delayed because of objections from Swiss, French and US (who else?) officials:
This morning, under agenda item 6, the WIPO General Assemblies decided to defer a decision until 2013 on the application for accreditation by Pirate Parties International. I was told that the US, Switzerland the France raised objections in the informal consultations, and that some other European countries wanted to raise objections, but found it awkward given the recent success of domestic Pirate Parties in national elections. The USA said it asked for a hold on the decision until WIPO could decide if it wanted to accept political parties as WIPO observers. One delegate said European countries were concerned that the Pirate Parties would take “political action” back home when they disagreed with positions taken by the official delegates at the WIPO meetings.
While it is a legitimate question as to whether or not political parties should count as NGOs, the whole thing still feels pretty questionable. As Jamie Love notes, it just makes WIPO look like it’s afraid of the Pirate Party.
KEI’s view is that the decision to block the Pirate Parties International application made WIPO look even more captured by right holders than it actually is. To the extent that intellectual property rights issues become seen as political rather than simply technical matters, it may be possible to have broader, deeper and more useful debates on the purpose and performance of the intellectual property rights system. Why? Because many of the technical staff at the government levels are caught up in a system where responsiveness to right-holder interests is key to promotions or job retention, and the robust revolving door with industry creates incentives to be anti-consumer.
In other words, another blown opportunity to try to move things forward, rather than staring longingly at the past.
Meanwhile, others are pointing out that the Pirate Parties International appears to meet all the criteria, and thus it is completely ridiculous to delay their observer status:
“If the NGO’s application falls within a plain wording of the rules and regulations defining what NGOs may be accredited, then the application should be granted,” he said. “From our perspective, what harm can there be for the secretariat of a political party to be an observer at WIPO? If anything, it seems to us this will lead to a better understanding by that secretariat of the international dimension of IP public policy, which is no bad thing.”
The whole thing seems like a typical negative reaction to the party simply because of its name, without any recognition of what it actually stands for, driven by pressure from the US. WIPO looking like a US stooge yet again? Not a huge surprise.